Reprinted from The Nation
The RNC and media outlets such as the Fox Business Channel, which will host the next debate in Milwaukee on Tuesday, have decided to rely on national polls to determine whether credible contenders for the presidency of the United States are afforded a forum or kicked to the curb. In so doing they have not merely affronted basic premises of American democracy; they have set up a scenario where the party of Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, and Ronald Reagan will have debates with fewer and fewer serious voices.
In the October 28 CNBC debate, the most thoughtful voices were those of former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. While the other candidates avoided questions by engaging in petty squabbling with one another and self-serving complaints about the approach of the moderators, Huckabee and Christie actually participated -- and contributed -- in a meaningful way. Huckabee's defense of Social Security distinguished him from the rest of the field, and the same was the case with Christie's savvy discussion of corporate accountability.
Yet, when the candidates gather again in Milwaukee on Tuesday, neither Huckabee nor Christie will be allowed to participate in the main debate. Under a new rule that dismisses candidates who have not maintained an average of at least 2.5 percent support in the four most recent major polls conducted through November 4, they're out. Huckabee and Christie will no longer be raising the quality of the debate with bombastic billionaire Donald Trump, distracted Dr. Ben Carson and whining Senator Marco Rubio. They will instead be at the kid's table, begging for attention with Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum.